Network engineers are vital to any organization that handles a lot of sensitive data in-house. Network engineers are planners and they are often referred to as “network architects”. According to a recent study we will release later this month, Network Engineer is the #17 most likely job placement for 2017 tech hires.
Network engineers handle everything about local- and wide-area networks (LAN and WAN). These professionals typically handle the entirety of a private computer network. Scaffolding and execution. They should be able to handle storage of various file types like documents, customer data, and images as well as larger file types like audio and video.
An ideal candidate understands wireless networks very well. Not everybody needs a network engineer, but in IT and Telecommunications they are vital.
Anatomy of a Network Engineer
The makeup of a quality network engineer is a combination of education, skill and experience.
Network Engineer Education
College internship programs allow students to gain practical experience in the industry. Tapping into these can help you generate relationships with budding network administrators that are the primary talent pool for network engineers.
Graduate programs are likely to have candidates with the right training for a network engineering gig. Common degrees for network engineers include a Master of Science in Computer Networking or an MBA in Information Systems, but the typical candidate has an undergraduate degree in computer science with some experience as a network admin.
Network Engineer Experience
The best network engineers have done their time as a network administrator. Oftentimes, candidates spend years as an administrator before they are ever considered for an engineering position.
Aside from the tolerance to sit in front of a screen for a long period of time, network engineers should be able to scaffold the structure of a network before executing the construction of it. That means they have planning skills. They can execute the plan, but they know beforehand how they will be capable of supporting the infrastructure. Networks aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it job and require maintenance that they know how to deliver.
A great network engineer should have an overall understanding of these vital components of a network:
- OSI Layer
- Routing Protocols (BGP or OSPF)
- Linux Commands
- Cisco iOS Commands and Configuration
- Layer 2 Protocols (STP, VTP, VLANs)
- Router commands and configurations
Some organizations require certifications since they can be decent indicators of talent. Industry vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and Red Hat typically dole out certifications that are respected by the industry. The certifications require applicants to study and take an exam so they serve as evidence that the candidate didn’t decide yesterday to become a network engineer. That said, they are not required and many very talented network engineers don’t hold such certifications.
Masters of the In-House
If your organization depends a lot on in-house data, a network engineer is pivotal. They architect your LAN or WAN and help you determine how reliable access to all of your company data will be. Ultimately, a great network engineer will help your organization’s data to be air-tight and free from vulnerabilities or data getting into the wrong hands.